24.03.20

Fish scales could be used for 'electronic skin' gesture technology

fish-scale-skin-technology

Scientists from China's Nanjing Tech University have developed an eco-friendly method of making 'electronic skin' technology (devices that can be worn on the skin) from fish scales.

So far 'electronic skin' technology has been made from stretchable plastic, but are designed to work for just a short time (one week max) before being discarded.

To solve this problem scientists from China's Nanjing Tech University have set out to develop a more environmentally-friendly alternative.

Led by Hai-Dong Yu, Juqing Liu and Wei Huang, the team began using fish scales that would otherwise have been thrown away. The team developed a gelatine derived from the collagen in the scales, then poured that gel into a petri-dish mold and allowed it to dry into a film. When tested, that film proved to be flexible, transparent and durable enough for use in electronic skin.

Although devices made with the film wouldn't necessarily be used for longer periods of time than their conventional counterparts, they also wouldn't use plastics which are environmentally damaging.

The fish scales, if mixed with 60 ºC (140 ºF) water for a few seconds, dissolve back into a gelatine that can be reused, and if buried in soil, the material completely biodegrades within 24 days.

As a demonstration of the film's functionality, the team used it to construct an alternating-current electroluminescent device, which continued to glow after being bent and relaxed 1,000 times.

The research is described in a paper that was recently published in the journal ACS Nano, and reported in New Atlas.